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The much maligned 3-man defence

The pros and cons of selecting wing-backs in your fantasy line-ups

Following the appointment of Antonio Conte as the next Chelsea manager, one question has dominated the headlines – will he deploy a 3-5-2 formation when he takes charge? This prospect has not sat well with the majority of Chelsea fans, who believe that such a system is outdated and has no place in the modern game.

Prior to last weekend’s defeat at Swansea City Oulala released an infographic that compared Conte’s win rate in his last three seasons at Juventus with how the last four Chelsea managers have fared in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat.

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Conte deployed the 3-5-2 formation pretty exclusively during his final season at Juve. However, he had shown more flexibility previously and it could easily be argued that he favoured the system due to the personnel he had at his disposal, most notably, an ageing Andrea Pirlo.

Jventus scored 80 goals, conceding just 23 in the process during a quite remarkable campaign that saw them winning 33 of their 38 Serie A matches. However, there was another notable stat that jumps off the page – Stephan Lichtsteiner provided more assists than any other player (8) and also chipped in with two goals. Significantly, he was deployed as one of their wing-backs, on the right-hand side, with Kwadwo Asamoah, assigned a similar duty on the left flank, also contributing two goals and three assists.

Only time will tell if Conte does indeed deploy wing-backs at Chelsea, but if he does, there are a whole host of candidates that will have FPL managers scratching their heads throughout the summer. These include: Willian, César Azpilicueta, Kenedy, Baba Rahman, Branislav Ivanovic and even Juan Cuadrado, who is currently on loan at Juventus.

From a fantasy football managers perspective there are a number of questions that need addressing. These include: What impact does a 3-man defence have on clean sheet possibilities? When a team deploys a 3-man defence is their goal concession rate likely to be affected? Are defenders that are deployed as wing-backs likely to earn more fantasy points for offensive actions than those that fill the traditional  full-back berth?

Things are never black and white, though, so goal expectancies will need to be factored in as usual. A number of Premier League teams have flirted with the concept during this campaign. West Ham United, involved in the pick of this weekend’s fixtures when they travel to  Leicester City are the latest on the list. This is obviously a tough fixture with the Foxes having been chalked in at 1.65 goals by the bookmakers, as they hunt down that elusive title.

Fantasy Football Portal - EPL GW34

Andy Carroll, scored a hat-trick in last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Arsenal. earning a WhoScored 9.99 out of 10 in the process, but it’s worth noting that wing-backs Aaron Cresswell and Mikhail Antonio provided an assist apiece.

Southampton, Liverpool and Manchester United are other sides to have adopted alternative versions of a 3-man defence this season, with varying degrees of success, so it is difficult to draw any concrete conclusions. It’s also worth noting that the various game operators will categorise players differently as well. Matt Targett of Southampton and the aforementioned Antonio, for instance, may or may not be classified as defenders.  This is significant since a different scoring criteria often applies to players from each starting position.

In-depth tactical analysis can liven up even the dullest encounter and whether or not you are a fan of the 3-man defence one thing remains constant – there is a place for it in modern day fantasy football!

How to select your fantasy football defenders

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